Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Insignificant Vote

“Grandpa, I heard today that the individual vote is insignificant because, statistically, it has no effect upon the ultimate outcome of any election. Is that true?”

Grandpa just looked down at me, smiled, and said “No, boy that is not true. First of all, it is a fallacious argument because it is a conclusionary argument rather than a evidentiary argument. Let's look at their argument and see what conclusion or conclusions must come from it.

Those who declare that their vote is insignificant because it has no effect upon the ultimate outcome are those who see the ultimate outcome in terms of winners and losers. From this point of view the only significant votes would be those votes that determined the winner. Any vote over and above that is insignificant because it has no effect upon the outcome. That would also mean that every vote for the loser was also insignificant. This would also mean that the vote of the non-voter had greater significance than the voter because if the non-voter, as a group, had voted it might have had an effect on the outcome by the ability to change the outcome.

What people don't understand is that the use of the democratic process is the means that is used to make a group decision not an individual decision. In order to ascertain what decision a group makes it requires that individuals make a decision first. Since the individual must make the decision first that means that no person can ascertain just how important his vote may be at the time he must decide. It is only after every person has voted and the winner declared that any voter can say his vote was insignificant to the outcome.

And this can only be determined on a statistical basis where numbers are all given equal status and no number is given greater significance than any other number. That is not true in regards to voting. Winning requires a certain number of votes and each one of those votes are significant for there to be a winner. So, for a person to declare that his vote was insignificant is to assume that his vote was not among those that determined the winner and no voter can know that. In fact, to carry this one step farther, no voter can be sure that his vote was even among those counted. And if this was the case then the question of the significance of his vote is an irrelevant question. You follow me, boy?”

I just nodded, a bit confused, and I could see by grandpa's smile that he knew.

“the point being, boy, is the fact that by this theory no voter can determine if his vote was significant or not to the outcome until after the outcome has been determined and a winner declared. In other words no determination of significance can be made until after a conclusion was determined. People vote because they believe that their vote is important to the outcome so the only conclusion that can be drawn from this is that they are assessing their vote in regards to the wrong conclusion or outcome.

Every man's vote is very significant. It is the fact that people vote that gives democracy any significance. That means that in order for democracy to have any significance then the vote of the individual must also have significance. How much we, as individuals, value our individual vote is determined by how much value we place upon the use of the process of democracy to choose our leaders. The effect people should be thinking about when voting is not how it will effect the outcome of the election but how it effects our value of democracy. When this is understood then no man can declare his vote as insignificant. It is only in a dictatorship where a man's vote is considered insignificant and without any meaning.”

48 comments:

dcat said...

Creeping socialism won’t win!

It will fall apart soon as everyone goes broke!

I will be spending my money left and right then when I am too old the state can then pay for me!!!

I always will have a change of plans. Not going to give to charities and we will then see how fast things to down in flames.

Yes folks will suffer but we have to start boycotting stuff so they get the picture and make sure to tell them why at the grocery store when they want that dollar for children, the phone call to donate to the blind, sounds harsh? What socialism will do to me is harsher and I will not give in! EVER!

That and the brother hood of “pricks” muslim islam loons!

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It amazes me how so many take their votes for granted, and don't participate in the electoral process of the leaders who shape the direction of our country.

I'm also amazed by those angry voters who don't get their dream candidate, and so think the right answer is to sit out an election.

The Griper said...

i'm with you on that one Word. but how do you argue with foolishness?

dcat said...

I will not be voting for obaaabaaa that is for damn sure!!!

I see him just flip floping all over the place!

Average American said...

Even voting "for the lessor of two evils" is better than not voting at all. Some people just refuse to be sensible about it.

The Griper said...

that is the point guys. you can vote for anyone. you are not limited to the names on the ballot. who you vote for does not make your vote any less or more significant or important. it is the fact that you vote that does. that is why they have a "write in" candidate. that way you need not vote for the lesser of two evils or you can vote for your ideal candidate.

politics is a game of power and each vote will only add to or diminish the power of the winner.

Lista said...

Dcat,
I'm not following your idea about boycotting charities. What do private charities have to do with Socialism? I'd much rather give to private charities, than to the government.

As the government takes away more and more money from the public, charitable donations go down. Donated time goes down as well, as more and more families find it necessary for both people to work.

Griper,
I guess you are right about individuals making decisions first, before we can ascertaining what decision will be made by a group, yet sometimes in order to be united as a group, some individuals have to compromise. This could mean that some who do not like someone like McCain, may have to vote for him anyway in order to prevent the presidency from going to Obama.

Unfortunately, though, this same principle applies to the primaries as well. Just as I told you on another of your posts, there are, in a lot of ways, four political parties, whether than only 2, for both of the main political parties are quite divided. There are liberal and conservative Republicans.

I guess I'm saying this at least in part for WordSmith's sake, as well as anyone else who is more likely to read this on this post than on a post further back in your blog.

If the Conservative branch of the Republican party had been more united and voted as a group, whether than as individuals, for the one conservative candidate that seemed to have the best chance of winning, which would be Romney, than Romney may have had a chance at winning and than we would not of been forced once again to vote for a RINO like McCain.

I know that you and Wordsmith know what that means, but for those who may not know, as I've had to explain it to some of my friends, RINO means Republican in Name Only.

Also, the reason why the votes "over and above" what is needed to win, as well as "the votes for the loser" are significant is not only because we do not know this before the outcome, but also because a Land Slide Victory is viewed differently than a Close Race. Land Slide Victories have a tendency to make the winners feel like they have a very strong Mandate to do everything that they want to do, but Close Races give more clout to their opponents.

Haven't you ever heard of Presidents "spending their popularity points in Congress"? Close Races and lack of popularity make it much more difficult for the winning President to get all that he wants done.

Lista said...

I guess voting for a "write in" candidate or a third party candidate does make a little bit of a statement. I was almost tempted to do that and may have if Clinton had been the Democratic Nominee, yet I have such a very strong mistrust of Obama that I'm going to have to vote against him and there is no candidate aside from McCain that has the chance at beating him.

The Griper said...

lista,
"Land Slide Victories have a tendency to make the winners feel like they have a very strong Mandate to do everything that they want to do, but Close Races give more clout to their opponents."

that is only repeating what i already said using different words;

"politics is a game of power and each vote will only add to or diminish the power of the winner."

"yet I have such a very strong mistrust of Obama that I'm going to have to vote against him..."

by voting for a write in you are voting against obama. you're voting for the person you write in. and what guarantee do you have that by voting for McCain he will win?

Lista said...

Hi Griper,
Actually, I had written my words before seeing yours. Sometimes I write my comments using the word processor and than I take a short break before proof reading them and submitting them, which would explain the 15 minute time difference between my comment and yours, yet anyway, what I said further explains why what you said is correct.

And then, another 11 minutes later, I responded in relation to the "write in" candidate.

There are some who would say that voting for a Third Party Candidate or Write-in is throwing your vote away because the person you are voting for can't win. This isn't entirely true based on what both you and I have said. It depends a lot on whether the objective is too make a statement or actually help someone win.

Once on Beth's blog, we had a discussion about this very subject and one of the things I suggested was that Conservative Republicans who live in states in which there is a strong Democratic or Republican bias, creating a situation in which McCain is likely to win or lose with or without the conservative vote, should vote for a more conservative Third Party candidate, but in states in which the Republican and Democratic vote is more evenly split, Conservative Republicans should vote for McCain and help him to win the election.

In a sense, this strategy involves evaluating whether or not one's vote will be significant or not in relation to the actual outcome of the election. If it is discovered that it is not, than the best thing to do is to make a statement by voting for someone that can't win. For such a statement to be effective, though, we still need to act in groups.

Ideally, it is best if all of the conservatives who have decided not to vote for McCain vote for the same more conservative candidate, thus, the vote for a Third Party candidate makes more sense than the vote for a write in and it would be even better yet if some of the Third Parties out there that have things in common would unite and form one larger party, for group mentality has a much stronger effect politically, than people acting individually.

I'm not opposed to votes outside of the two major parties like some are, yet we need to unite and get more organized and make our Third Party votes really count for something.

I'd be really curious to the opinions of WordSmith and Average American. It seems to me that I've seen both of them over at Beth's blog.

The Griper said...

lista,
"it would be even better yet if some of the Third Parties out there that have things in common would unite and form one larger party..."

i hope they don't because if you look at the third parties out there most are advocating socialistic methods of promoting their cause. and they would be the ones most likely to unite.

and you still are looking at the issue from a winner/loser point of view. my point of the post was that voting was the act of promoting democracy so, regardless, of who you vote for that vote is significant because by voting you are doing just that, promoting the idea of democracy. also, that the only insignificant vote was found in a dictatorship.

and what is the idea of democracy? it is that person going into that booth and privately declaring on a ballot who he thinks would be the best man for the job. and that write in candidate is for those persons who feel that none of the named candidates are the the best man.

by voting by this recognition the end results are that the man with the greatest number of votes wins and has the support of those who voted for him because each person who voted for him considered him as being the best man for the job.

when a person votes for the lesser of two evils as AA was saying that will be man holding a job whose supporters are not very supportive when he needs their support the most.

Geo. Bush is a very good example of this. he garnered 51% of the vote but if you look at the polls today you'd wonder how he ever got elected. his so-called supporters no longer exist.

Bill Clinton is another good example. he was only able to garner a plurality of the votes but they supported him throughout even through an impeachment.

an election is about who you want to be your leader. it is not about who you don't want to be your leader. your vote for someone already declares that. for by voting for someone implies you do not want someone else to be your leader.

Lista said...

Oh come on, Griper,
I'm not referring to all the Third Parties on the left. I'm referring to the ones on the right. For example, I've heard some talk about the Constitution Party uniting with the Independent Party. A friend of mine and I were looking on the web once at all of these smaller conservative parties that are less well known and there are a bunch of them. It makes little since to me why anyone would want to start more and more small Third Parties. What we need is to lump them into bigger ones.

The fact that it is more likely for Socialists and Non-Christians to unite than those who believe in moral values is really sad.

Quite often who wins and who looses is crucial and should not be sacrificed for the sake of promoting an unpopular idea.

Also, there are degrees of significance. A vote that affects the outcome of the election is very significant. A vote that promotes a non-winning idea is not insignificant, yet perhaps less significant.

Unfortunately, in this particular election, no matter who wins, there will not be as high a level of support as there has been for presidents in the past, because neither of the candidates is really that popular within their own party. This is sort of a sad election period and it's really too bad.

I don't really think that McCain is much more popular than George Bush. Just because the polls reflect that lots of people have said "Yes, I'll vote for him." does not mean that those numbers reflect much enthusiasm. The percentage of McCain "supporters" who really don't like him that much is really high.

The Griper said...

ok, lista, you win.

Lista said...

Then she chuckles.

Really?! Are you sure you're not just getting tired of arguing. Only time will tell. I'm sure round two will come around eventually. lol.

Meanwhile, I'm actually sort of torn over whether or not I'm going to vote for McCain. I keep going back and forth on the idea.

The Griper said...

he sits back and lets out a big laugh when he sees her remarks. then thinks quietly, "uh oh, the girl is getting to know me too well. lol"

my only advice is and i'd say this to anyone, vote for the person you believe will make the best President. also remember, the only person that is in total agreement with you on any and every issue, poltically, is yourself.

Karen said...

Well said, Griper. If no one voted...

Gayle said...

Hi, Griper. I just came over from Karen's where I read your answer to Thomas, and I think that comment thread may be what inspired this most excellent post, although I know I could be wrong. After all, after reading your answer in Karen's comment thread and thinking about it, I admit I was wrong. Thomas should not feel defeated. He should vote, as should all of us! Thanks!

The Griper said...

karen,
think of it this way, a dictator always votes for himself and only his vote counts.

gayle,
you could have been wrong but you are not. yes that comment thread is what inspired me to write this.

Gayle said...

It's nice to be right once-in-awhile. :)

The Griper said...

gayle,
women are right all the time even when they are wrong. us men just have a hard time understanding it. lol

Lista said...

Hi Gayle,
What a guy, huh? I knew I liked this guy. lol.

Crian said...

Hey Griper, well written would be an understatement, I will be sending this post to some of my close friends in Mass. closer to voting time who don't plan to vote for anyone because they believe Senator Obama and Senator McCain are part of the broken political system and see no sense in supporting that. Voting is essential in every election and not just this one because without voting how can we ever move the current political system forward? I hope that as many people as possible will vote this year so that we can have a truly representative feel of where the majority of american's want the country to go with regards to the candidates respective policies.

The Griper said...

Crian,
to agree with you would also be an understatement. and i'd like to see them vote for the best man, in their mind too, not just for one man in order to keep someone else from winning.

that would be the only way to understand the people's mind.

Lista said...

Even voting for a Third Party Candidate or Write-in is better than not voting at all. Not voting communicates, "I could care less." Voting for someone, anyone, communicates, "Yes I do care. I just want someone other than the two main candidates."

The Griper said...

you're "right", lista, and it also communicates who you, personally, would make the best president.

dcat said...

Did I tell you griper that I like you better with the cowboy hat on!

Put it back on!

dcat said...

I don't usually answer to anyone you know.

That is my freedom and it keeps fools from wasting my time arguing!

I do what I gotta do and I'll be damn if I will throw a vote! But it won't be for that candy a-- obaaabaaaa thats for sure!

Lista said...

It's just like I said before, if we could get all of these non-voters to vote for the same Third Party Candidate, we could make a statement.

The Griper said...

lista,
yup, that is true. now one of my famous questions you like so well. lol

how are you going to accomplish this remarkable feat?

Lista said...

I don't think political leadership is my gift. If we're lucky, maybe someone who does have this gift will read this and know what to do. Meanwhile, I'm just going to pray about it and let the Lord handle it.

Lista said...

Maybe that's Griper's job. You can fix this, can't you? lol.

The Griper said...

unfortunately, lista, i'm past the age of idealism.

Lista said...

Too bad. Well, I got to run.

Average American said...

There's an old saying "if you don't vote, you have no right to bitch." I for one always reserve (preserve) my right to bitch! As many of you here know, I like John McCain and will vote for him.

For those of you who prefer a more conservative president, remember this; if enough of you vote a third choice and Obama wins, you will have to live with yourselves. Unless you really perceive McCain to be as bad as NOBAMA, think carefully about what you plan to do.

Think supreme court justices and think a democrat congress with no one to threaten a veto. Would you recognize America in 4 or God forbid, 8 years under these circumstances? I DOUBT IT!

Joe the realist.

The Griper said...

AA,
its not how many votes McCain gets that will determine whether or not Obama wins or loses. it is how many votes Obama gets that will determine that.

and there is a lot of hillary voters who are going to vote for McCain but have you seen any voters for the other republican candidates declaring that they are voting for Obama? they have threatened not to vote at all. so, given that i'd rather see them come out and vote for a third party candidate than not vote at all.

the end results will be the same whether they stay at home or vote a third party.

my post was to give people a good reason to vote rather than not vote. i'll leave it up to you and others to give them good reasons to vote for McCain.

dcat said...

As many of you here know, I like John McCain and will vote for him.

And so will I!

obaaabaaa is going down in flames!

That will be a good thing!

Lista said...

Griper,
I have a hard time being a realist too, yet as things in our country get worse and worse, I keep thinking that perhaps more and more people will get dissatisfied enough to support Third Parties in significant numbers. The problem is that everyone seems to be dissatisfied for different reasons. The people who I would like to see more united are the Christian Conservatives.

What happens if Obama wins over McCain and yet does not have the majority of the votes when all the Third Party and write in votes are counted. He can still win even without the majority, can't he?

Voting for Third Party and write-in candidates, though, is what communicates discontent. All that staying home communicates is Apathy.

The people in California better vote, though. If all goes well, there is going to be something on the ballot relating to the Homosexual marriage thing. We don't want that, so it is important that we stop it.

AA,
First of all, I want to thank you for visiting my blog and I hope that you will be back again.

One argument that was given on Beth's blog for not voting for McCain was so that the Republican Party will at last learn that continually nominating RINOS does not pay off. I'm still trying to decide whether I agree with that or not. I'll probably be undecided right up until the election.

I must admit, though, that I was more willing to risk letting Hillary into office than Nobama. The very idea of that might cause me to vote for McCain.

Lista said...

Average American,
The scary thing is that McCain may not veto a lot of things that the Democrats pass either and I'm not sure if we can trust his choices of Supreme Court Justices or not. I think we're just plain in trouble, no matter who wins.

Griper,
I've been thinking about what you said "It's not how many votes McCain gets that will determine whether or not Obama wins or loses." That's like saying that it doesn't matter how fast one's opponent runs in a race. Of course it matters. If the opponent runs slow enough, than winning requires less effort.

There does need to be more of an expression of discontent, though, against our present two party system, so I say, please do vote you guys. Even if it's for a Third Party Candidate. Break your voting silence and communicate.

The Griper said...

lista,

"What happens if Obama wins over McCain and yet does not have the majority of the votes when all the Third Party and write in votes are counted. He can still win even without the majority, can't he?"

the answer is yes. that is called winning by plurality. Bill Clinton won both his elections this way. he never got a majority of the vote. all you need to win is to have more votes than everyone else.

"That's like saying that it doesn't matter how fast one's opponent runs in a race. Of course it matters. If the opponent runs slow enough, than winning requires less effort."

if you have the talent of speed, lista, it doesn't matter how fast your opponent runs because regardless of how fast he runs you will win because you're faster.

the same principle works in politics. if you are good at convincing people to vote for you it doesn't matter how many votes your opponent gets because you'll have more. that is what campaigns are all about,each candidate trying to convince everyone to vote for them.

The Griper said...

lista,

"The people who I would like to see more united are the Christian Conservatives."

haven't you heard the accusations on the left about the "religious right?" Jerry Falwell united them and they have been a pain in the butt to liberals ever since.

Lista said...

Griper,
In response to "If you have the talent of speed, Lista, it doesn't matter how fast your opponent runs because regardless of how fast he runs, you will win because you're faster."

I guess this is like saying "If it appears that Obama is going to win anyway, than how many votes McCain gets doesn't matter." In California, you're probably right, which brings me back to something that I said earlier in a comment above.

"Conservative Republicans who live in states in which there is a strong Democratic or Republican bias, creating a situation in which McCain is likely to win or lose with or without the Conservative vote, should vote for a more Conservative Third Party candidate, but in states in which the Republican and Democratic vote is more evenly split, Conservative Republicans should vote for McCain and help him to win the election."

If I keep saying this too myself enough times, I'm likely to either vote for a Third Party Candidate or Write-in Romney's name. Don't put it past me. I just might do that if McCain doesn't seem to have a chance in California anyway, which is likely.

I just want to add, though, for the sake of those in states in which the vote might be closer, you do need to be sure that the "speed" of one candidate really is considerably faster than the other, before risking making that Third Party Statement.

Since Bill Clinton won by plurality twice, if more Republicans had showed up and voted against him, he may not have won.

Lista said...

Griper,
Way to go, Jerry Falwell! Praise God!!

But we probably need to do even more. When I looked at the computer once with a friend of mine and saw how many Conservative Third Parties there are, I thought that this was really pathetic. These parties need to unite. Come on you guys! This is really important!!

Lista said...

So tell me Griper,
Who do you plan to vote for. I'm curious.

The Griper said...

we vote by "secret" ballot, lista. and that is exactly how my vote is cast and that is how my vote always remains. though i will say it won't be added to Obama's total.

Lista said...

Interesting. Most people are dead set on persuading others to vote for the same person they are voting for.

The Griper said...

lista,
that was the core reasoning behind the foundation of political parties in this country.

Fallen' Angel said...

I see a lot of intelligent, complex comments here which is going to make mine all the more simplistic, but since it's something I finally grasped while reading this blog a while back, I feel it worth repeating.
For me, it's much more than who I vote for or how much that vote counts. Instead, I look at it as more than the *right* to vote. I look at it as a responsibility. How much blood was shed so that I could cast a ballot? Do I not, at the very least, owe the honor of exercising my "right" to vote to those who died to ensure that I would have it? Of course I have the same bias toward one candidate or another, just as we all do. And of course I look for the best leader I think our Country needs. But even if I believed my vote wouldn't matter in the outcome, I know that those who gave their lives deserve my acceptance of their gift.
Angel Out

The Griper said...

angel,
yes a lot of deep thoughts here but none that can beat yours. very well said and felt.

Followers

Words of Wisdom of my visitors

Grab This Widget

Gas Buddy

Search for gas prices by US Zip Code

 

Design by Amanda @ Blogger Buster